Any time you play golf, putting takes up half your total strokes. When a pro shoots an even par 72, putts account for 27 to 36 of the shots per round.
So, if you really want to lower your score, it is highly recommended to improve your putting.
A solid foundation
Putting consistently well requires a solid foundation.
There are so many ways to grip the putter: the traditional reverse overlap, the left-hand low grip, the claw grip, and the list continues. The solution is not in the grip alone. There’s no right or wrong way to hold the putter.
But, for every golf shot, the grip is the most important aspect. This is because if you don’t start with the correct pressure or the position of your fingers and wrists, you are less likely to make a good stroke, swing, or putt.
How to hold using the traditional reverse overlap
The grip on the putter is designed differently than the other clubs. Normal design for a grip is typically round, but the putter grip has a flat part on top. Using the edges of the flat part of the grip will help you remember the checkpoints.
If you are new to the game, the most reliable method players can learn is the most common method used on tour. Professionals prefer the most effective method that is repeatable because a consistent putting stroke will lead to consistent results.
I would suggest the traditional reverse overlap grip with a textbook posture.
- Match the lifeline on your left hand to the edge of the grip. This aligns the left thumb on the flat part of the grip, and the thumb will point straight down
- Connect the right-hand lifeline with the outside edge of the left thumb. This way half of the right thumb rests on top of the left thumb, and the other half on the flat part of the grip, pointing straight down in the same direction as the left thumb.
- Lift the left index to cover the right pinky and fourth finger.
(This differs from the full swing grip where you use the right pinky finger to either overlap or interlock with the left index. It will feel like you are holding the grip more in the palms of your hands rather than with the fingers as it feels in a full swing grip.)
It will feel awkward at the beginning, but this will help stabilize the wrists and not break your wrist angles when making strokes.
How to check your set up
If you understand how to hold the putter grip, it’s time to work on the three key things to check in your setup.
Key #1: The putter head should rest flat on the ground. It should not sit on its heel and/or point up at the front of the head.
If the putter head is not flat on the ground, you risk hitting the ground before ball, causing the head to possibly rotate and interfere with directional and distance control. The wrong setup of the putter head will also effect the alignment of the ball to the sweet spot on the putter head.
If you make strokes with the heel or the toe of the putter head off the ground, the arc will not be as straight or as smooth as when the head starts from a flat position.
When the putter head misses the sweet spot at the center of the ball, it will put an inconsistent spin on the ball, so you want the putter head nice and flat on the ground to avoid any complications.
TIP: When the putter is flat on the ground, the shaft should make a straight line with your forearm. If you have the correct specs on your putter, and you are holding with correct grip, the left wrist will feel like it is bowing out which is different than a full swing wrist position.
Key #2: The ball position should sit directly below your left eye if you are a right-handed player.
If you drop the ball from a position at your eye, it should land where you want it. With the ball under your left eye, it should be about one golf ball left of the middle of the stance. And, with the ball placed directly below your eye, it forces your posture angle forward, considerably different than a full swing posture.
To maintain your relationship with the ball and the putter head flat on the green, you will have to bend over more from the hips with less knee bend. It’s best to put 55% of the weight on the front part of the left foot and maintain this throughout the stroke. Maintaining this weight distribution will help with the putter head coming back to the ball in a consistent manner, especially when putting on a severe slope.
Tip: If you putt with the same posture angle as the full swing, the putter head will naturally draw a rounder arc, whereas if you bend over more and have less knee bend, the putter head will travel straighter back and forth.
Unlike the full swing, putting doesn’t require big swings and full power; rather, it requires more refined control of the accuracy and feel, So, you want to make sure the putter head can return to the ball square on a consistent basis. Placing the ball directly below the eyes will help with the alignment, and by straightening the stroke, you improve your chances.
Key #3: Check your elbows!
Many amateurs tend to set up with their elbows flared open to the side. While you may see this in some professionals, they are very good at keeping the arms connected to the body throughout the stroke.
Amateurs, however, tend to be more disconnected. Their shoulders rock one-way, and the arms do their own thing. The arms wobble during the stroke, and this leads to inconsistent rhythm and stroke through the ball. With the elbows flared, you will have a hard time controlling the direction and/or the distance of the putt.
Tip: A great way to fix this is to tuck your elbows inward. The elbows don’t have to touch your belly. (Of course, if you have a beer belly, the elbows may touch your belly).
You must try to point the elbows toward your oblique muscles. This way you will feel the armpits pinching; this will help your arms to stay connected during the stroke.
To understand the feeling, try this drill:
- Open your palms, face them forward. Placing the palms side to side, touch the pinkies together. It will tuck the elbows in and pinch the elbows.
- Maintaining that position, try to rock your shoulders side to side. You will feel your abs doing all the work. If you learn to rock your shoulders using your abs, you will notice a significant improvement on how the ball rolls, eliminating jumps and side spins on the roll.
- Practice putting with the elbows toward your obliques.
The position will seem uncomfortable at first. Your elbows may want to do their own thing, but as you see the successful results, it will become more comfortable.
How to lower your score
If you want to lower your score, focus on improving your putting. After all, the number of putts takes up almost half the score. Remember, each 300-yard drive counts as one stroke, so does a 1-inch putt. Now you know how to grip the putter, set up a reliable stance, and use the abs to putt, you will be able to put a consistent roll on the ball and sink more putts!